*Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Hot Chocolate 15k Chicago as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!*
I lived in Chicago for two years but never had the opportunity to race in the Hot Chocolate 15k. So I jumped at the chance to run this event. I thought what’s not to love: Chocolate, Running, and Chicago! Unfortunately with my work schedule I could only get off of work for the day of the event and not for the expo/packet pickup. Luckily, the race offers to mail the packet to you for a small fee. In my packet, I received a super comfortable hooded sweatshirt. Probably one of the best race swag items I’ve ever received.
I didn’t know how to prepare for race a 15k race. It’s one of those distances that you don’t run often, even in a training plan. So I trained for it like a half marathon. Unfortunately on race day, I had a very bad cold. My coughing and sneezing fits were not going to allow me to go out 100%. But a cold didn’t stop me from having a great time at this event.
I was nervous while driving down to Chicago that the rainy morning would last throughout the race. Luckily, the rain subsided and the sun started shining by the time I headed to the start corral. I had other friends running the race, but we all ended up in different corrals. So I occupied my wait by snapping pictures of the huge crowd of people, skyscrapers with Cubs logos in the windows, and singing “Go Cubs Go” along with everyone else awaiting the start of the race.
The spacing of the corrals didn’t really help the congestion by the time my corral started, so I had to zig-zag quite a bit before having some space to run at a comfortable pace. People were all dressed up in Halloween costumes, cubs gear, and normal funky running clothes. There was so much to look at that the first aid station snuck up on me! I was excited to see what chocolate treats they were handing out along the way! They handed out chocolate chips, water, and Nuun. The other aid stations had strawberry marshmallows, M&M’s, and chocolate marshmallows. I think I gained more weight from this race!
The race did a giant circle around Grant Park. We headed north and went under Wacker Drive, then south down Michigan Avenue. The race had a coup quick U-turns, which allowed me to high-five and cheer on my friends who were coming in the opposite direction. On the way back north, we got to see beautiful skyline views of Chicago. There was one section that was a little scary and dark-over by the McCormick Center. But that section didn’t last too long. We finished the race running past Soldier Field and back into Grant Park.
At the finish the volunteers handed me my very own chocolate bar medal. I love the design, like I’ve taken an actual bite out of a candy bar. Once I moved through the hydration area, I met up with friends close to the stage, with a fun, hyped up band playing. Then I headed to the Chocolate area! They handed me a huge plastic mug, loaded with hot cocoa, chocolate fondue with a banana, rice krispie treat, marshmallow, and pretzels to dip. I was in chocolate heaven!
In the end, I am extremely happy that I finally got to do this race. The race was managed well for having over 10,000 runners. I loved all the sweet snacks along the course and all the chocolate at the end. I wish I didn’t have a bad cold, because I could have hung out with friends listening to the band a lot longer. Hopefully I’ll get the chance next year!